I’ve only been running for about five years. Yet I recently learned that I am a member of a particular class of runners. I am a Masters Runner.
That sounds sort of “elitist”, doesn’t it?
Well, it isn’t. It just means I’m a runner over the age of 40. Maybe even 30, depending on who’s doing the “classifying”!
It tickles me that from my very first race, I was classified as a “Masters Runner”. I’ve always associated the word “master” with (1) someone who was eminently skilled in their craft or profession; (2) someone who has excelled in their study or art; (3) someone highly qualified to teach others, or (4) someone who owns slaves.
I am none of these things. So if anyone had asked me “Are you a Masters Runner?”, I would reply, “Oh, no! I only just started!”
But apparently, I am a master, if only by virtue of my age.
It might have been helpful for me and my friend Jeff to have known this at a race earlier this year!
Before the race, we visited the various vendor tables. As we stopped to admire the display of medals to be awarded to the top males and females in each age category, it surprised us to note that the highest age bracket being awarded was age “46 and above”!
Now hold up. Most of the races we’ve participated in award age categories well beyond 46. We lamented that the years between that alleged “peak” of 46 and our own ages can mean a big difference in performance. It seemed unfair to the more senior participants…even those of us only five to ten years into the category!
Before runners were even making their way to the start line, Jeff had lodged a suggestion with the race director for next year’s race…in short, that they really should expand the upper register of age divisions so that all age categories have an opportunity to place.
I found the race itself quite challenging because trail running is not my strength. So I was shocked to find that I had placed second among females in my age group.
Yes, the 46 and above age group.
Jeff placed fourth among males in the same age group.
But here’s the punchline. None of the individuals who placed ahead of us in our age division were younger. Rather, every single one was in their 60’s.
And we thought we were standing up for these runners! As we now know, these are the Masters.
So the moral of the story is this, I’m not, nor will I ever be, an elite or professional runner. But I can say I’ve always been a Masters Runner. And I’ll be able to hold on to that category for many, many years to come.
From the looks of it, it only gets better! And, that’s the goal!
“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” – Unknown